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Culture > News

The Former Dean of USC’s Med School Has Been Accused of Leading a Double Life Involving Drugs

A group of people has been leading an investigation on Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, the former dean of USC’s medical school and a celebrated ophthalmologist, and none of them are police officers.

In fact, the reporters at The Los Angeles Times have tried to work with police on accusations against Puliafito, but have had little success. Monday morning, they released all the information they have on the former dean of the Keck School of Medicine at USC. Just hours after the story was published, the L.A. Times reported that Puliafito was “on leave” and “no longer seeing patients” at his eye doctor practice.

The article refers to video evidence of Puliafito taking ecstasy, methamphetamine, and heroin with a 21-year-old woman named Sarah Warren, along with other people of various ages (none of them USC students).

Warren told the L.A. Times that she was with Puliafito in a hotel in Pasadena March 2016, when she overdosed on GHB, a common date-rape drug. Their hotel room contained other various drugs, but neither was arrested. Pasadena police spokeswoman Tracey Ibarra told the L.A. Times that the police would have to determine who was responsible for the drugs before an arrest, and that no one made a health or evidence report. When they did, the Times received heavily redacted reports that listed Puliafito as a friend and witness to the overdose, nothing more.

The two returned to the hotel after Warren’s recovery and continued partying.

Later that month, after an anonymous tipper contacted the police and the L.A. TImes, Puliafito stepped down from his position as dean. However, no one at USC has made any comment. 

Puliafito has spoken at many USC events, and reportedly helped raise $1 billion for the university. He helped invent a laser technology that reportedly changed the way doctors treat eye disease. He has worked at other institutions, such as the University of Miami, and has a reputation for increasing the standings of schools in rankings lists. Just last June, the university held a reception in his honor, and celebrated his accomplishments. 

Several others met Puliafito through Warren, and have told the L.A. Times in several interviews that they have done drugs with him either in his home or on the USC campus. Yet he is still on faculty and still takes patients as an eye doctor.

The Times reported that the anonymous witness was afraid the police wouldn’t do anything, so they contacted the paper. All they want is justice. 

Hopefully, this unmasking will lead the police to do a real investigation on Puliafito. The L.A. Times has done a job for the public that the police and the university were neglecting—maybe for the sake of reputation.

Morgan is a sophomore at St. John's University in Queens, New York. She is a journalism major with a passion for news and culture, and a staff writer for St. John's independent student newspaper The Torch. Aside from writing for Her Campus, she is a spoken word poet and pianist. Her past work can be found at morgancmullings.wordpress.com. Twitter & Instagram: @morgancmullings